With an eye on the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, BJP’s national executive will begin its two-day meet in Allahabad on Sunday which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah among others.
Senior members of the Union Cabinet, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and members of Parliament will take part in the meet, which is likely to set the agenda for the Assembly elections in the state which are less than a year away.
“I would have called it as sounding the poll bugle for UP assembly polls but for PM Modi’s rally in Saharanpur last month.
“Nevertheless, Allahabad has been the state’s political epicentre and the place where stalwarts ranging from Jawaharlal Nehru to VP Singh have learnt their ropes. And a party meeting organised here will certainly have a catalytic effect on our efforts to bring about political change in Uttar Pradesh,” said BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh, who has been camping in the city since Thursday.
Shah, at a recent rally on the outskirts of the city, had stated “if there is one state which is responsible for helping the BJP get a majority in Parliament, it is UP” while party vice-president and in-charge for the state Om Mathur had said “many issues would be discussed at the national executive but the main focus would obviously be on the UP assembly polls due next year”.
Enthusiasm is palpable among party foot soldiers as for the first time since its establishment three decades ago, the BJP has chosen the city for holding its national executive.
Almost all the streets and roundabouts are dotted with billboards or posters welcoming Modi and other leaders to the city and exhorting residents to turn out in huge numbers for the rally which will be held on Monday, immediately after the conclusion of the meeting.
There are also any number of posters displaying the header ‘Mission 265 Plus’ – a term coined by Shah who has repeatedly exhorted workers to aim at achieving a thumping majority for the party in the 403-strong UP assembly.
Some of these posters stand out for making a demand that Sultanpur MP Varun Gandhi be declared as the party’s chief ministerial candidate.
However, party spokesman Shrikant Sharma said “such decisions are taken at the Parliamentary Board meeting which is usually held in Delhi. National Executive is not the place for making such an announcement”.
“The meeting will definitely address the issue of the ‘goonda raj’ unleashed by the ruling Samajwadi Party in the state, which had its worst manifestation in the recent violence at Mathura where land-grabbers enjoying political patronage killed two valiant police officials,” he said.
“The BJP is committed to rid the state of SP and BSP, both of which have ruled the state alternately for more than a decade and brought it to ruins,” he said.
The BJP at present has less than 50 MLAs in a 403-member house, a massive decline since the 1990s when it used to be the top political group in the state.
The party owes much of its recent buoyancy to its dramatic comeback in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when it contested 78 out of 80 seats and romped home with a stunning tally of 71.
It was the best ever performance by the party in the state, which has been credited, in a large measure, to Modi’s decision to step out of Gujarat and contest from Varanasi and also the organisational skills of Shah, who was then the national general secretary in-charge of the state.Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place in the city.
The elite Special Protection Group (SPG), responsible for the Prime Minister’s security, arrived here on Thursday and has been busy reviewing security arrangements at the Kayastha Pathshala sports ground where the meeting will be held under a gigantic air-conditioned marquee, and the Parade Ground near the holy Sangam where a public rally will be held on Monday.
The SPG is also reviewing the security arrangements at the Circuit House, where the Prime Minister is likely to spend the intervening night of June 12-13.
On its part, Uttar Pradesh Police has chipped in with personnel drawn from more than 20 districts of the state.
Bomb disposal squads and sniffer dogs have also been pressed into service while a total of 150 vehicles – including cars, jeeps and SUVs – have been booked for the movement of the VIPs.
Party workers in the city are working overtime, traversing the streets on motorcycles and rickshaws, carrying party flags and posters and playing ‘Mera Desh Badal Raha Hai’, a virtual anthem released by the Modi government on completing two years in office.